Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 06.09.16
Stanstead, Quebec


Cap in hand for A Hole in the Ground

I did something recently that I'm not very comfortable doing. No, not that! Disgusting! No, I asked people for money. I'm normally much more comfortable passively hinting for money or sighing heavily about money until eventually people give me money to make me go away.

But Tuesday, I launched a Kickstarter campaign to ask people to help me affray the up-front printing costs for the publication of my debut novel, A Hole in the Ground. This is serious business. I know because I'm using business-y words like "affray" and "up-front."

The novel, however, is not serious business. It's about the fictional town of Beaverly, home of Canada's deepest but least exploited sinkhole, and Mayor Conrad Lemon's constantly thwarted efforts to get the town on the map. So when an emergency occurs, he's determined to make the most of it. At his side (against her will) is Jemima MacNaught, assistant editor of The Beaverly Modicum, who is torn between her town and her career, though she's not sure she wants to stick with either.

It's a comic novel that I'm cheekily referring to as "Sunshine Kvetches of a Cranky Town," which now that I think of it is not so much cheeky as shamelessly exploitive.

But don't take my word for it, comic-wise. Have a look at these fake Goodreads reviews:

"This is the Great Turtle Novel the world has been crying for."

"Stupid. Reads like 'Parks and Rec' fan fiction."

"If you love 'Parks and Recreation,' you'll love the hijinx of Beaverly!"

"The science in this novel is so preposterous that I can't even bring myself to call it 'science.' I call it 'scjsormbuncce,' it makes so little sense. How dare the author ruin a whimsical, lighthearted story by not having a solid grounding in geology. And, yes, I just said 'grounding'!"

"Is it literature? No. Is it entertaining? Yes. Is it a work of art? No. Is it a romp? Yes. Is it a box of saltines? No. Is it..."

"Boycott this book. It is mean to firefighters and Corey Hart."

"There are at least five laughs in this book, which is more than I can say about Anna Karenina."

"I read this book because the cover made me think it was about turtle hunting. It is not. It is exceptionally kind to turtles. If you are a turtle hater like me do not read this book!!!!"

"I ran several red lights reading this book."

"If you read one novel set in a fictional Canadian backwater with a sinkhole and a swamped housing development, involving a reporter, a visiting biologist, a conniving mayor and somehow Tim Hortons, make it this one!"

"For the author's sake, I hope writing this book was cheaper than therapy."

Clearly, not all those fake reviews were flattering, but you can't please all the fake people all the time.

What's important is I'm happy with this book, and with no publisher coming forward to take it on, I decided to release it myself in the hope that my readers around the Townships and elsewhere might enjoy it too. So, I've arranged a small print run, and Townshippers' Association has kindly agreed to launch it at Townshippers' Day in Brome this September.

If only I weren't broke.

Thus, the Kickstarter campaign. I hope to raise enough money to cover the cost of printing and other incidentals (business-y!). In return anyone who donates $20 or more (plus a shipping cost) will receive an autographed copy of the book. In hindsight, I should have added that if they donated $50 or more they would get a copy without me scribbling all over it.

As someone who doesn't like parting with money, I felt weird asking others for it. It's like calling up an old friend and saying, "I'm coming to visit you!" and then asking for bus fare.

But this is the age of social media and micro-funding, and Kickstarter is a way for people to have a stake in the creation of something. I hope people will feel that way about my venture, knowing that most of the work is done. I just need a little help to get it to the final stage. More of a Kickfinisher, really.

Begging for funding, though... ugh. I guess this means I'm really and truly a Canadian artist.

If you would like to support my campaign or read the opening pages of A Hole in the Ground, visit and search for "A Hole in the Ground" or find the link on my Facebook page. Like the T-shirt says: "Lose Your Soul in Beaverly's Hole!"